1978 Musicmaster Bass Project

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wally Balls, Jan 17, 2022.

  1. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    I was looking for a short scale bass and came across a 1978 musicmaster in a pawn shop. It is in need of some love so I decided that I would do some modifications and make it my own. I talked with Novak pickups and they are going to make me a custom P bass pickup set up for the more narrow string spacing. To add this pickup I am going to have to route the body out. I have also ordered a 920D custom PB upgraded replacement wiring harness. My plans are to change out the pickguard and make one that looks more like the Mustang with the metal control cover, but still using the MM pickguard shape.

    When i was deciding what bass to get I also ordered a new American Mustang Bass. I played both side by side and decided that the MM had a better feel. Needless to say the Mustang ended up getting returned.

    My questions are:
    What is the best bridge? Ideally one that would use the same mounting holes, but I doubt there is one out there. Hipshot had one years ago but is no longer being made. If i can't get an exact match on holes then I want the one with the best sound, preferably one that covers the factory holes so it has a clean look.

    Has anyone done this much mod work personally to a MM?

    Does anyone know where I can find La Bella 0760M-S original 1954 style stainless steel flat wound strings 0.052, 0.073, 0.095, 0.110?
     
  2. DavidEdenAria

    DavidEdenAria

    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Congrats! I had a 72 MM that needed lots of love but it was all there (stripped finish).

    I do like the metal control cover as the stock pickguard is a crap design (i strengthened the original guard at the output jack)...in went a Duncan Hot Rails and a black refin stock color...it was super lightweight and went to a girl who could appreciate a light short scale but it SOUNDED really good...very resonant.

    Not sure on a bridge (the stock bridge intonated fine on my 72 MM) so it was left intact but do a search, many mods are done to these. Not sure on strings but that seems like a very heavy set...i have 95-45 GHS Precision flats on my Bronco and 96-40 Pressurewounds on my 65 Newport but im 62 and need less tension but massive bottom end can easily be achieved with this light set.

    Pics?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
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  3. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    Here are some pics from today. I just picked it up a few days ago. Most of the parts are ordered. At the moment I am leaning toward a Schaller 3D-4. Once the project gets started I’ll post more. I feel good about almost all of it. The only thing that concerns me is routing the body for the pickups. I know there are several options that drop in, but I’m pretty particular and want a split PB pickup.
    I am always open to discussing any of this. This is going to be a huge learning experience. I feel that I have a good skeleton to build on.
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. skycruiser

    skycruiser

    Jan 15, 2019
    You can't get a split coil pickup that fits in the original pickup package? Noise cancelling J pickups are basically a reshaped split P pickup in most cases.
     
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  5. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    I’m just going with what I know and what I’ve played. I’m not trying to anger the bass gods by sacrificing my MM. I just want to make her a one of a kind, fit to my specs. This could be a really fun project…. Or firewood lol
     
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  6. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
  7. That’s nice! Personally, I would leave it as is!
    Congrats!
     
  8. Since @nixdad mentioned me I'll weigh in on what I know. No worries Chris! :thumbsup:

    Unfortunately I don't have much to offer in useful information for the OP. Long story short when I got my '78 MM it was in dreadful shape having been abandoned in a barn. So there was no concern over vintage value because it was basically firewood with rusty pieces attached.

    The bridge I have on it now is a Squier MM version. The mounting holes lined up which would meet the first part of the OP's request but trying to find one is pretty much like locating Bigfoot at your backyard campfire. I was lucky in finding it. And even if you find one it is a string through body design so that involves the drilling and ferrule mounting too.

    I did buy a Bronco body off TB classifieds once that had a Hipshot A style bridge with the correct 17mm string spacing. The design might meet your request of covering the holes though. Never ended up using it though.

    I've never used or investigated LaBella strings so no help there either.

    My MM has been through many other changes over the years including a slimmer neck to accomodate the old arthritis in the hands. Best of luck in your quest though, they're great basses. Sorry I was not of more help.

    Yours looks to be in great condition though! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
  9. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    I never plan on selling it so I’m not concerned about resale. The electronics are toast, so I’m replacing the guts. Since I’m doing that it makes sense to replace the pickup. My favorite sound is from a P Bass pickup so that’s what I’m going to go with.

    I also bought a new American Mustang in hopes that the pickup tone would be similar, but it’s not. So that is going to be returned. For the same money I decided to get this pawn shop MM and totally pimp it out to my specs. I’m 50 and having a project is a good thing.

    It has a great feel in my hands so I’m going to leave most of it as is. I love the patina and the character of the wood with age.
     
  10. You’re right…projects are good!
     
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  11. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    So what would you do if you weren’t leaving it original? This forum has helped me narrow down lots of things. The only loose end is the bridge
     
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  12. Im not sure. Is there an aftermarket bridge available?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
  13. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    Meh, right now my favorite is the Schaller 3D-R. But I am not set on that. I have Novak making custom Split P Bass pickups with appropriate spacing for the MM. I think I have some time before they get them done so I have a little more time to look. I have a piece of burl that I may try making a pickguard with. I like having a metal plate for my control panel as well. So it will look like a mustang but with the MM pickguard footprint. I’ll attach a picture of what I’m gonna attempt making a pickguard out of. One of the users here (Grin and Tonic) inspired me to do that with his build. If you haven’t seen that post I strongly recommend it.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Wally Balls

    Wally Balls

    Jan 17, 2022
    Asheville, NC
    My father in-law passed away recently and that is from his stash of wood. I have no idea what it is, but it looks nice. No better way to honor him than at least trying to make it into something. I’ve had it for years and never knew what to do with it. Once I started this project I thought this would be the perfect way to use it
     
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  15. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    There should be several bridge options that would work for your project, in terms of spacing and covering up the original screw holes. The Schaller 3d is a great bridge and I don't think you can go wrong with it. Personally, I've always been a big fan of lightweight Hipshot aluminum bridges. Something like this maybe: Hipshot B-Style Brass 4 String Bass Bridge - Black - .669" 17mm Spacing - Best Bass Gear
    Looks like they're out of stock currently and who knows where the supply chain is at on these, but if you do some snooping around, I'm sure you'll find a 17mm Hipshot bridge pretty quickly, whether here in the classifieds, on reverb, or elsewhere.
     
  16. DavidEdenAria

    DavidEdenAria

    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Keep n mind all P bass pickups can vary a whole lot....one reason why many choose drop in replacements such as the Duncan Hot Rails i used that can be wired different ways.

    As popular as P pickups are there are too many variations for me personally...once you route it....there are many other excellent pickups besides P types these days but if you do route it you will have choices (maybe too many) as the market is flooded with P types but you must take into consideration pole/string alignment...thats why i have an old Lawrence L-250 in my Bronco, single blade, stacked noise cancelling with a powerful bottom end.....Ive thought about a Dark Star type pickup for the Bronco but im fine for now lol!
     
  17. Honestly? Cool stuff!

    super clean, great condition!
    upload_2022-1-17_21-22-59.jpeg
     
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  18. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Shaker Heights, OH
    Bronco bridge works. Hipshot makes the vintage bridge with 18mm spacing that’ll work too
     
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  19. TyBo

    TyBo

    Dec 12, 2014
    There's also an option like this special design 4 pole-piece pair pickup, direct replacement bass pickup. Sounds great in the demo, huge improvement over the weak Strat style original MM pickup. Though it looks like a several month wait for a custom order.
    https://www.homeoftone.co.uk/collec...ingle-coil-bass-pickup?variant=12115672760440

    I have a Lace Sensor pickup in my MM, works well, distinct improvement with more power and bass tone, and no 6 pole piece misalignement.

    Or, there's the whole rerouting P pickup way. I didn't feel it necessary ... but the heart wants what the heart wants, and that's part of what makes projects fun! :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
  20. TyBo

    TyBo

    Dec 12, 2014
    I found one of the Hipshot MM replacements (4 bridge pieces) after a long search, but they're apparently discontinued, and scarce as hens teeth.
     
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